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Austin blogger helps women travel alone

When we sat down to speak with influencer and travel blogger Lindsay Mukaddam, she had just landed in Croatia. After a bloody flight and a good nap, Mukaddam struggled to install a Zoom update on her Airbnb’s spotty Wi-Fi. Between loading and buffering, we discussed postponing, but Mukaddam was joining friends for a week-long boat trip up the coast, and the high seas promised even worse download speeds. Through divine providence (or a well-placed kick at the router), the clouds parted and Mukaddam appeared on screen, grainy but finally visible.

Such is life for the world traveler. For half a decade, Lindsay Mukaddam has been sharing her adventures under the multiplatform controller A wandering girl, amassing nearly 200,000 subscribers along the way. From his comprehensive travel guides to group trips organized with his fans, Mukaddam hopes to convey a fundamental message: you don’t have to wait for others to see the world. Here, she shares some of her most important lessons.

You started this business to avoid stagnation in your life. How was the process to become One Girl Wandering?

I certainly had no intention of turning this into a business. I had started traveling, but my Instagram at the time was just a personal account. I had friends and family saying, “You should start a blog. Of course, none of them have their own blog. They don’t know how hard it is. I was like, “Yeah, sure, I will.” And so I started a blog and started sharing through that and through social media, and it just took off from there. Attracting a community came with opportunities [to work] with brands, other companies and tourist offices. And from there, luckily, I was able to make a small business out of it. So that’s what I do now full time.

You put together travel guides, share tips and advise women on the best way to travel. Why is it important to you to help others see the world?

Many women hold back from travelling. They are waiting for friends or relatives. Solo travel is taboo for women. So I wanted to prove a couple of things. First, you can do it, you don’t have to wait for anyone, and you shouldn’t wait for anyone, because life is too short. You never know what’s going to happen in life, and you should be able to go out and explore and not wait for other people to check their calendars. Two, I’m married, and a lot of women think once you’re married, it’s over. You are with your husband 24/7, and you have to do everything together. A big part of my mission is to let women know that you should try solo travel even if you’re married. I always travel with my friends, with my husband and I do group trips. I just want women to know it’s an option for them and be bold enough to take it.

What are your biggest tips for women who are overwhelmed by the prospect of planning a solo trip?

You don’t need to make a gigantic first international trip; you can start slowly. You can take you to dinner. Take you to the cinema. Go to the museum on your own. You can improve your comfort level by doing little things, like taking a trip to the next town or going on a weekend getaway. You don’t have to completely jump off the cliff of your comfort zone.

You do not count the number of countries you have visited. Why is that?

One of the reasons I don’t count is what determines visiting a country? Does he spend the night there or is he visiting for a few hours? I’m a big fan of returning places, so I’ll be doing return visits. I think I’ve been to Paris four times now. I’ve been with my husband, with friends, and by myself, and each time was a different experience. I have been to Japan three times. I will be going back next year and have a group trip to Japan soon. I am definitely a person who is in favor of a slower trip and a return trip. I try not to rush destinations. I feel like a lot of times, especially for us in America, we have such limited vacation time that when you finally get [to travel]I see people coming up with these crazy itineraries trying to visit five countries in a week and you’re just like, “Slow down and really enjoy where you are.”

In all of your solo adventures, have there been any standout, “That’s it” moments?

I could get emotional. It was towards the end of my first solo trip that I was sitting on top of a mountain in Switzerland. I was staying in a hotel with a funicular to the top, but at some point the funicular stopped working, so [hotel guests] were the only ones on the mountain. I decided to get up at sunrise and I remember sitting on top of that mountain thinking, “This memory is going to be all mine.” It’s something I’ll treasure, like a little gem I can hold on to.

Is it one of the most rewarding parts of the trip, seeing these wonders firsthand?

That is certainly part of it. Another part is just seeing how different people live their lives. You think so much about how you live your life and what’s normal for you, and then when you go see other people, it really changes your perspective. You learn different things, and sometimes you learn that there are better ways to do things. And I think that’s helped me a lot when I come back from travel, thinking about my way of life, how I can improve that, and how I can bring what I’ve learned from meeting other people into my life.